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Monsanto, a US biotechnology company, has sold 1.3 million packets of genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds in India this year – a dramatic increase from 230,000 in 2003, and 72,000 in 2002.

Last year, protesters attacked the company's Bangalore office. The critics say not enough is known about the effect of GM seeds on the environment, and that cross-pollination could lead to genes moving from GM to natural varieties.

Monsanto's seeds contain a bacterial gene that protects cotton from attack by bollworm, a major crop pest. Although only six of India's 29 states allowed planting of Monsanto's GM seeds, farmers in other regions are planting them illegally.

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